Reviewed by May
After waiting eight years for a fiancé to marry her Miss Whitmore has had enough. Truth be told, she just inherited a lovely castle and this good fortune has made her financially independent. She no longer has to wait for the Marquess who would rather traipse about the globe than return to her.
She doesn’t need a man who doesn’t want her.
All she needs is for her brother Rafe (a former fighter and an infamous scoundrel) to sign the papers dissolving the engagement. Rafe has no intention of doing this, in fact he decides instead that he will get personally involved to make sure that Clio and his brother marry and that nothing goes wrong. Never mind that he is attracted to Clio or that he is supposed to be training for a comeback fight. Forget that they have amazing chemistry and are drawn to each other. No, he’ll make sure his brother’s bride stands ready for his return and nothing more.
After all, he’s nothing but a washed up former champion. A man with very little to lose and even less to offer a woman like Clio.
“It’s no use. A stray good deed or two could never balance my sins. What of all those women I’ve seduced?”
“I…” Oh, heavens. How did one speak of such things aloud? “I… I’m sure a few of them enjoyed it.”
At that, he laughed. It was a dry, low chuckle- but a laugh, nonetheless.
Laughter was a good sign, wasn’t it? Laughing men didn’t hang themselves. It shouldn’t bother Clio that he was laughing at her.
“I assure you, Miss Whitmore. They all enjoyed it.”
Well, he’s not so low as to be considering hanging himself – but the opening scene and immediate chemistry and dialogue had this story off to quite the start. As any Tessa Dare fan like myself would expect, the story has a lovely balance of humor, heat, and emotionally tender moments as well. Rafe is so protective of Clio, but he also comes to see that while he’s had his own struggles over the years he isn’t the only one. As his brother’s fiancée for so many years she’s endured quite a bit of ridicule and even within her family something of a joke. He can’t stand to see her treated so badly.
Barely controlled anger radiated from him. “Not tonight. When I’m around, you don’t wait out dances. You don’t go hungry. And you sure as hell don’t come at the end of any line.”
Good heavens. It was a struggle not to swoon all over again.
Swoon worthy hero, heroine striking out on her own and working towards independence, and a rich cast of characters had me enjoying every page of this book.
If I have one complaint, it is that the story didn’t continue to build and grow more amazing as it went along. It was a good read the entire time, but it wasn’t the deeply satisfying, rich, wow this is one of the best books I’ve ever read experiences I tend to get with a Tessa Dare book. Perhaps it was the way that for most of the story Clio lets people push her around and she needs saving. Maybe it is because of the appearance of the brother and how it felt like he was an interruption to the tale. Or, maybe this particular story just wasn’t my favorite. There’s no one particular problem that I have or complaint to be made here.
He silenced her objection, rubbing his thumb up and down her arm. God, she was soft there. “He will. Make those wedding plans, Clio. Because when he sees you again for the first time it’s going to come as a blow to the ribs, that wanting. He’s going to want to see you in that grand, lacy gown, with little blossoms strewn in your hair. He’s going to want to watch you walk down that aisle, feeling his chest swell closer to bursting from pride with every step you take. And most of all, he’ll want to stand before God, your friends and family, and all of London society – just to tell them you’re his. His and no one else’s.”
This book is worth reading for Rafe alone– oh Tessa Dare does great things with her leading men! Though not a personal favorite among this author’s many great works, I definitely still recommend this one. Especially if you’d like to see a hero who is a big brute of a man (that turns his back on society, of course) fall hard for a woman who has dreams of living in her castle and being independent and happy in a quiet life.
Notable: Book one, Romancing the Duke, made many of our “best-of” lists this year. (each book is stand-alone)